For months everyone in Alaska politics has been waiting for the other shoe to drop. When oh when will a legitimate candidate emerge from the Republican Party’s conservative ranks to take a run at their favorite “RINO” target, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski?
It’s as open a secret as anything in the state that hard core conservatives don’t want, won’t let, absolutely can’t have Murkowski go unchallenged for re-election.
It just can’t happen, especially when the vast majority still feel their guy, Joe Miller, beat her fair and square six-years ago in the Republican primary, only to see her, in their view, break her word and run (and win) as a write-in candidate.
That loss, and what they see as Murkowski’s duplicity, still stings with many on the right.
But as of yet, no champion for their cause has emerged.
So all eyes fall back to Miller. He beat Murkowski for the Republican nomination back in 2010, but then lost in a three-way primary race to Dan Sullivan in 2014. Is Miller game for yet another uphill battle against Murkowski?
Folks I’ve spoken with who have been involved in Miller’s past campaigns say he doesn’t want to. In fact, Miller’s inner circle have been putting out signals for months that he doesn’t necessarily want to run again, but may if nobody else from the conservative wing is willing to.
Now, with the candidate filing deadline of June 1 rapidly approaching, an intriguing post has appeared on Miller’s blog Joemiller.us.
The article, written by Miller’s 2010 campaign spokesman Randy Desoto has the feel of a wink to conservative faithful that Joe may be coming out of the woodwork, and soon.
DeSoto starts the piece by exploring Murkowski’s potential vulnerability to a conservative in 2016. Among the quotes from several conservative activists is this:
“Make no mistake, there is a strong conservative base within the Last Frontier’s GOP, as evidenced in the presidential primary results earlier this spring. Cruz won the state in a upset, taking 36 percent of the vote, followed by Donald Trump with 33.5 percent, Rubio with 15 percent and Dr. Ben Carson with 11 percent. In other words, non-establishment Republicans accounted for at least 80 percent of the primary vote total in the state.
People have been really grumbling about Murkowski,” since the 2010 race, said Bill Keller, who was the co-chairman of Cruz’s campaign in Alaska.”
DeSoto goes on to say this of the potential for Joe Miller himself, even at this late hour in the election cycle, being the one to take on Murkowski:
“What does Miller himself himself think of taking on his old nemesis again? So far he has not ruled out the possibility. The filing deadline of June 1 is quickly approaching, with the election slated for Aug. 16. The West Point graduate defeated Murkowski the first time, announcing just four months from Election Day and starting with zero statewide name recognition. It is conceivable he could do it again with just short of three months, and an army of volunteers likely ready to stand up statewide.”
The article ends with this:
“If Miller decides to enter the race, it will be based on the principled belief that propelled him into the race in 2010: Politicians, regardless of family name or longstanding position, should not get a pass from answering to the voters for their record. And if anything in the case of Lisa Murkowski, that record in the ensuing six years has only become more liberal.”
In case you think there is some ambiguity as to what DeSoto was trying to say in the article, here is how he tweeted it out:
Then, there is the article’s title: This Liberal GOP Senator Votes With Obama More Than Any Other up for Re-Election. It is almost designed to get the casual Alaskan to ignore it. I know several Alaska politicos who did, and so did I, almost.
For those of us in Alaska it’s nothing we haven’t heard a million times, especially from the far right, “Lisa Murkowski is an Obama loving liberal.” But maybe the title wasn’t as much intended for us as it was as click bait for lower 48 uber-conservative readers. To those looking for a distant RINO hunt to donate what little money they can afford to in the coming fall elections this title was surely unavoidable click bait.
The article also came embedded with this video YouTube lists it as having been posted April 24th, less than a month ago:
I don’t know about you, but that sure looks like a campaign ad to me.
In January, Miller ended his radio show on Mat-Su based station KVNT. On his blog, Miller declined to give an explanation for why his show was ending other than to say it was his decision not to renew his contract with the radio station.
It’s just speculation, but the article, written for Miller’s blog, by Miller’s campaign spokesman, taken along with the video and Miller’s decision to end his radio does start to build a pattern the more machiavellian among us could easily view as indicating a return of candidate Joe Miller sometime soon.
Then there, as is always the case, is the money. Miller still has an active campaign account that according to Federal Elections Commission (FEC) records still has $99,396 cash on hand. That means Miller would have some minimal cash to get a campaign off the ground from the start.
So, is Miller running? These moves give plenty for those who want him to run and those who don’t alike, plenty to mull over.
Lisa Murkowski was able to convince many Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents to write in her name in 2010, on the basis that she was bipartisan, shared many values and positions with them, and was the only person who could save Alaska from Joe Miller.
Since that time, she has shown herself to be as partisan as ever, disappointing and even angering a number of the above supporters (and, due to waffling and flip-flops, perhaps conservatives as well) over issues such as Planned Parenthood, Supreme Court nomination, and so on.
Question for you and readers: What do you think the above 2010 supporters- if truly disaffected with Lisa Murkowski- will do in 2016, especially in the primary? Vote for an independent or Democratic candidate? Or vote in the Republican primary for Joe Miller, even if a change in voter registration is necessary to do so?